#Imlil: Terrorist act in Morocco

Anna van Densky OPINION Club of Moroccan advocates called for a vigil (22.12.2018) for two decapitated Scandinavian tourists, expressing their profound sorrow and indignation about the abominable crime.

Undoubtedly, many Moroccans are shocked by the hideous act of the “soldiers of Caliphate“, serving Al-Baghdadi, but is the condemnation of the radical Islam sufficient to continue “business as usual” in Morocco, meaning uninterrupted flow of tourists from Europe? Fascinated by the exotic beauty, and the opulent historic heritage of the north African country , the European travelers bring 10% of PIP, with record 11,35 million of visitors in 2017, which means the hospitality industry constitutes a considerable wealth for the country, and some remote communities as the one in #Imlil, next to the highest peak of the Atlas mountains – Toubkal (4.167 m), – are entirely dependent on hikers like late Maren and Louisa. Will the tourists continue to follow the track, where two young women were tortured, raped and decapitated, to enjoy the belle vue?..

One can hardly blame the Moroccan authorities an immobility in fighting terrorism. Since 2015 Moroccan government launched an ongoing special operation ‘Hadar‘ (Vigilance), covering the major cities and touristic sites, in the frame of this operation the street patrols were reinforced with two military next to each policeman. The Central investigation office (General Directorate of Territorial Surveillance) reported 902 arrests, and 57 dismantled terrorists groups. But still in spite of all these efforts the barbaric act of beheading of Scandinavian tourists happened, and it would be too simplistic to blame the local community without placing the situation into the context of the dangerous transformations in Maghreb.

Since assassination of  Colonel Gaddafi (20/10/2011) and destruction of the Libyan statethere is hardly a terrorist group that is not represented in wast ‘no man land‘ of once a wealthy and stable country, protecting it borders, and fighting terrorism.  Subsequently the fragmented territory of  Libya represents a stronghold for export of radical Islam in the entire region. Between 2011 and 2014 a total of 1,105 acts of terrorism were recorded in the countries of Maghreb, and statistics shows that the phenomenon of radical Islam is at rise: in 2014 the number of terrorist incidents was almost 47 times greater than of recorded in 2011, and nine in 10 registered in Libya.

Libya as failed state creates an ideal grounds for exporting radical Islam to adjacent countries, and unless the international community, and namely the European Union, invest considerable efforts to unite the fragmented entities, and bring back stability, the warriors of Caliphate will make the maximum use of chaos.

23.12.2018 AMENDED:

Hundreds of mourners attended a vigil in Moroccan capital Rabat for a vigil next to Embassies of Denmark and Norway; flowers and candles were also laid in Marrakesh, and in the southern village of Imlil, near where the bodies of two young women were found.

Investigation released an opinion of experts from Norway, indicating they are no reasons to suspect the video of beheading is false. The post-mortem examinations will take place in retrospective countries.

Pedro Sanchez Gibraltar ‘Chandelier Bid’

Anna van Densky  OPINION  It would be utmost naive to believe Spanish Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is eager to enter history books as a man, who derailed Article 50  deal, and destroyed the the EU27 collective effort to avoid ‘hard Brexit’ over such a ‘eternal‘ issue as Gibraltar ceded to  British crown in 1713. Even more so, the derailing of Brexit deal would be senseless facing the solid support of the leadership of territory unequivocally given to British government both by the Chief Minister and opposition.

However Spanish veto threats hanging as Damocles sword over the final draft deal to be presented for endorsement on the EU Brexit Summit just in a day is an ideal opportunity for Sanchez to raise his own stakes politically in Europe and gain a considerable capital at home, boosting his own popularity.  Virtuoso of public relations, formed in Brussels institutions, Sanchez mastered modern communication strategies and has no intention to miss an opportunity Brexit offers.

In profound need of electoral support,  Sanchez, whose ascension to power happened though elaborate parliamentary chess combination, but not the citizen’s vote, finds himself in a need of political capital,  and voters sympathies, he has been chronically missing. The struggle for Gibraltar status is a ideal subject to raise media and public attention in Spain to gain so much needed  for the Socialists popularity.

The other paramount issue is the Spain‘s shattered image within the EU over the Catalan  referendum oppression – the last minute compromise Sanchez will offer to the bloc will be undoubtedly  presented as an ultimate sacrifice on the alter of collective European good to be exchanged in the future on ‘carte blanche‘ in some sensitive issues and benefits  for Spain to obtain from Brussels.

Pedro Sanchez will definitely not bloc the EU27 Brexit deal, and destroy the fruit of Michel Barnier elaborate arrangement to be delivered at the historic EU Summit, however there is a price for Spanish generosity the Brussels will discover later when leaders gather for the final say. Meanwhile the Article 50 game of nerves will go on, reminiscent of classic ‘Chandelier Bid‘, in order to create the appearance of greater demand or to extend bidding momentum for a piece on offer – #Gibraltar, whose inhabitants have already  twice in referendums supported status quo.

This Millenium Gibraltar sovereignty referendum was held on 7 November 2002 within the British overseas territory on a proposal by London to share  the sovereignty of the territory between Spain and the United Kingdom. The result was a rejection of the proposal by a landslide majority, with only just over one per cent of the electorate in favour.

EU wrestles May into II referendum

The EU top negotiator Michel Barnier has put the cards on the table offering British Prime Minister Theresa May to postpone Brexit for one year. However one month would be suffice to launch the second referendum procedure in alliance with the Remaines in the House of Commons, including pro-EU Tory MPs in May’s own camp.

The frankness of Barnier brought certain relieve explaining the outstanding difficulty of the talks – the EU does everything possible to keep the UK ‘in’, making problem of every issue. #PeoplesVote is the ultimate goal of the Brexit talks, which follows the EU logic. If you vote ‘wrong’ you have to vote again until you aline with Brussels interests. Will May accept the EU27 ULTIMATUM tonight? She has 30 minutes of dinner speech to clarify her intentions. Afterwards the world will know if Brexit referendum was just a dressed rehearsal for a II one, or Britons really mean it.

 

Asylum Convention from Colonial era

Anna van Densky OPINION European suggestion to arrange illegal migrant ‘disembarkation platforms‘ outside the EU is a stillbirth, rejected by all Maghreb countries, insisting that the creation of migrant camps in not a solution for existing problems of Africa ravaged by conflict and poverty, but a translation of an existing difficulties into another form of challenge – ever-growing refugee agglomerations. Meanwhile European leaders insist on delivery upon ‘obligations‘ given by their ancestors towards asylum-seekers, however they prefer to ignore the fact that the entire international legislation on refugees dates from Colonial era – Geneva Conventions on Asylum 1951.

Looking at Kenya, one can imagine a scale of a problem of mass migration of population in modern Africa – huge numbers of people spending day after day,  year after year “camping” in tents. #Dadaab is an example of the failure even of the UN CHR to resolve problems of suffering from a conflict population through construction of permanent camps – the site hosting 300 000 Somalia refugees became an ever-growing hub attracting new arrivals, but failing to ensure return policies.

Refugee Convention 1951 is a genuine Colonial era document in the times when Africa had no single independent state, and the population of the entire continent was a half of European. Endorsing  Asylum Convention back in 1951 no one could imagine the entire populations of Africans would be moved to Europe, using the document created after the WWII for the devastated European continent. It was amended only once with a Protocol, declaring Convention ‘universal‘, but nobody outlined how the developed part of the world would host all asylum-seekers of the planet.

Refugee Convention 1951 remains a key legal document that forms the basis of international action. Ratified​ by 145 State parties, it defines the term ‘refugee’ and outlines the rights of the displaced, as well as the legal obligations of States to protect them.

The core principle is non-refoulement, which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. This is now considered a rule of customary international law.

However with the spread of radical Islamic terrorism, and subsequently the threat to ‘life and freedom’ menacing the entire populations of African countries, opens a broad gate to migrant flows, claiming right to shelter in Europe.

Today African populations are the fastest growing, representing a huge challenge for the young states themselves, where deprivation is massive – half of the Africans live in poverty, without access to basic human needs, such as nutrition, clean water, shelter.

However the intense work of different aid, development, and charities, infant mortality is declining, leading to demographic explosion. With current trends – on average five children per woman – Africa will become the most populated continent, home to six billion people by the end of the century. The EU concept of hosting ‘all in need‘ is a total illusion, even with reforming the EU Dublin regulation, and relocation migrants all over Europe – the simple arithmetics shows that 500 million European have no capacity to deliver in accordance to obligations of their ancestors: African population has been growing from 221 million in 1950 to one billion in 2009.

Nowadays realties indicate to the only possible direction to resolve problems of Africa – in Africa, not outside. In cooperation with African governments, but not in waging wars against them, as it happened in Libya, where the Western “lesson of democracy” caused an ongoing tragedy, destabilising life of the continent.

#Dadaab, Kenya

Dadaab arial

No new Russian envoy to new NATO headquarters

Russian decision to postpone  the appointment of a new ambassador to NATO announced today marks a new low in rapidly deteriorating relations between the East and the West, but even more it underlines Kremlin assertiveness, and claims of parity,  turning the page of a period when one could label Russia as a “regional power“.

However while looking at new splendid NATO headquarters in Brussels one wonders what it the purpose of the Alliance today? What’s the raison d’être? If it is the revival of the Cold War, what is its aim this time? The Communism has fallen, and there is no official state ideology in Russia to defeat. The authoritarianism, human rights and rule of law issues can hardly be targets of criticism, while NATO ally Turkey’s ‘Sultan’ Erdogan openly, and literally conducts purges against his political opponents, and wages a war against Kurds, describing it the ‘Olive Branch’ operation against Islamic State.

Meanwhile the radicals are not shy about showing faces in Afghanistan. After a decade of military campaign, NATO has withdrawn its troops in 2014 without any definite conclusion, but rapid and widespread rise of Taliban. Nowadays the Islamists are taking grounds, imposing unprecedented levels of violence, and there is hardly a week without news of terrorist attacks, and numerous victims among civilians. Unlike the time of the beginning of the US military mission Jawbreaker (2001)  against Osama Ben Laden in Tora Bora, the radicals are not hiding in the caves, they are claiming  power,  and constructing networks in real and virtual world, controlling two-thirds of Afghan  territory. The airstrikes in defeating the radicals do not help much, but turn against the Kabul and the West the entire population of the provinces for ‘collateral damages’.

However even the rapid progress of Taliban does not motivate NATO to start a coordinated action with Moscow, in spite of the obvious interest of both sides to defeat terrorism,  there are instead allegations of Russians ‘arming Taliban’.

“They say they wouldn’t mind if we gave them weapons, but they don’t need weapons. They say ‘give us money, we’re buying weapons from the stocks of the Afghan army and police’,” Ambassador Zamir Kabulov was quoted as saying by The Associated Press.

Ambassador said  that in their talks with the Taliban, the group’s representatives said they buy all their weapons illegally from the Afghan government and police, and asked for financial support for that.

While the West argues with Russia, reducing diplomatic missions and expelling staff, the Taliban actively uses an opportunity to expand, and it will succeed until there is a comprehensive joint NATO-Russia strategy for counter-terrorism. However within the current political situation, the low tight in diplomatic relations does not provide with an effective response to the rapidly growing terrorist threat.

#RoadToBrexit as a daydream

Undoubtedly the Manson House speech of the Prime Minister Theresa May has many virtues, offering constructive proposals for Article 50 agreement.  In general it is also attempts to appeal to common sense of the EU leaders, and is reflecting an intense search for the best possible new formula for matching interests of both parties, instead of fitting into old EU dogmas of ‘four freedoms’. May’s vision of the basis of post-Brexit engagement is orientated towards future: robotics and artificial intelligence, the new technologies and most of all the British genius, which brought the nation to the forefront of the Digital Revolution. But can this dazzling and dynamic new engagement attract Brussels?..

If we agree on the leading role of the “outstanding individuals” in sculpturing history, and take a close-up on European Union protagonists influencing Brexit negotiations, we’ll see that they function in totally different modus operandi than the looking forward British PM. The European Commission president (the ‘Prime Minister of Europe’) Jean-Claude Juncker is concerned with keeping the EU project intact in its original form, repeatedly referring to the forefathers – Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet who resurrected Europe from the ashes of the WWII on entirely new basis. Devoting his life to the ideas of the United States of Europe, Juncker’s major preoccupation is the risk of Brexit provoking a collapse of the entire 70 years old architecture, erected gradually after the European Coal and Steel Community united in 1950 in order to secure lasting peace.

Ideologically Juncker faces similar problems in dealing with Brexit as the Pope, who faced unpleasant news from a rebellious English King, rejecting to acknowledge his authority, and thus pay tribute to the Holy See. Juncker’s preoccupation is not to let the heresy to spread, subsequently the creation of a new ‘dynamic and vibrant’ engagement with London would be detrimental to the original project, showing to the other member-states, that life outside the EU can be so much better than inside.

In this case May’ appeal to embrace together the wonders of Digital Revolution falls on deaf ears: Juncker, as usual, is looking backward, contemplating ashes of the WWII. Keeping in mind the origins of the European project, the protection of its ‘sacred’ four freedoms from British ‘heresy’ becomes paramount. Allowing the new engagement to be a success means to give in to those, who ‘betrayed’ the great idea of Schuman, and  ‘tricked’ Britons into the trap of leave vote – an unthinkable compromise for such a ‘guardian’ of the EU Treaties as Jean-Claude Juncker.

In this context one can not exclude the ‘no-deal’ scenario, when the UK faces Brexting on WTO rules. Anyway, when dealing with dogmatics, it would be useful to keep an ace up the sleeve:)

 

The Cheat La Tour

Pharisees welcome to #Haiti!

Anna van Densky, OPINION

The linguistic argument over  President Trump choice of epithet to describe the situation of rampant criminality in Haiti ( 219 murders per 100,000 a year), and some other African countries overshadowed the concern with the situation itself, becoming a hysteria of Pharisees, outraged for pointing to  the unpleasant truth.

African nations started to express their protest and request apology for the unflattering comparison, being used to comfortable “politically correct” public discourse, indulging in escapism. The population rushed to express their frustration and rage in destruction. (Image below: spontaneous protests in H&M store in South Africa against epithet “shit hole”, reportedly used by President Trump.

A discussion in White House with President Donald Trump on immigration regulation that suggested asylum for people from Haiti and other likewise places, caused a whirlwind of emotions. Why US citizens  should welcome immigrants from “shithole countries” rather than from Norway? The question the President reportedly asked, according to sources present in conversation leaked to press and make headline. But it is not rate of gang rapes that concerned the general public, but an obligation to hide the abhorrent reality, making it a taboo. The next question is how to fight evil, if politicians are not allowed to raise an issue without censorship?

Pipe

“It is not a pipe!” says the line on painting of the father of Surrealism Renée Magritte. The international politics has become totally surrealistic, rejecting realities, and sheltering in illusions. While the UK FCO travel advice  (see below) warns about horrors of Haiti, Pharisees among the US #Democrats attack the President for using an epithet, slightly hinting on degradation of failed states and territories, with highest rates of murders and gang rapes on planet Earth. Pharisees do not attack the problem, they attack the President pursuing their own political aims, manipulation public opinion in their own selfish interest, waging infowar against Republicans. However it is time to establish the truth, all Pharisees should present a reason for their indignation. If President is wrong, they should leave for next holiday there:)  Welcome to #Haiti! We are waiting in anticipation for the photographs on your Facebook pages:)

FCO Haiti travel